Google is ditching video responses from its video sharing site on September 12, encouraging users to fall back on hashtags and descriptions to surface videos in searches. The cited reason is a minuscule .0004% click-through rate on video responses submitted by users.
To illustrate, says the YouTube team, only four out of every 1 million users bothered to click on those little boxes underneath the main video. Efforts will theoretically go into providing new and different tools to increase fan engagement for creators.
The notice was posted on YouTube’s Creators blog because that’s really who this affects. Video responses were designed to create a way for big-time YouTubers to foster a conversation and increased interaction with their fans. A video response would appear attached to a video, increasing exposure for the responder and demonstrating that a conversation was happening around the posted video.
Now, YouTube says that the best thing to do is to encourage fans to use the video titles, hashtags and descriptions to explicitly associate them with the video that they’re responding to. Then, creators can search for those videos to find them and move them into playlists and channel sections.
Current video responses will still be “available and discoverable,” says YouTube, but since they weren’t really being watched in the first place it’s hard to care much.
Google is in the final stretches of overhauling YouTube to be the channel-based juggernaut it thinks it can be — a true competitor to television. But if it’s going to do that it’s not just going to need to find a way to duplicate what TV already does well but to enhance the things that it can do without the strictures of the channel structure. In other words, yes, make people comfortable by starting with channels, but utilize the unique network effect of YouTube, which has made it the No. 1 music service for teens and so many other superlatives.
Anyhoo, it will be interesting to see where YouTube takes the video-engagement tools from here. Hopefully people will click more when they do.